There are a range of benefits and tax credits available for single people and lone parents. What you are eligible for will depend on how much you earn how many hours you work in a week, any savings you have and the number and age of your children.
Tax & Benefits for a Single Person
As soon as you separate, you will be considered as a separate individual by the Inland Revenue. If there is only one adult in your household you can apply for a 25% reduction in your council tax.
If you are working less than 16 hours a week and have savings of less than £16,000 you can apply for Jobseeker’s Allowance or Income Support. If you are aged 18-24 and have no children you will receive £50.95 per week. If you have a child or are over 25 you will get £64.30.
Working Tax Credits
If you work more than 16 hours per week you should apply for Working Tax Credits. These can range from over £3,000 per year for an individual earning less than £5,000, to £1,665 to someone earning £16,000. Further deductions are made as you go up the scale.
If you are in rented accommodation and in receipt of benefits you will probably be eligible for Housing Benefit. Depending on your circumstances, they can pay a proportion or all of your rent. They will usually visit your home to make an assessment first.
Benefits and Credits for Your Children
Before 2003, if you were on Income Support or JSA you could also claim a personal allowance for dependent children of £45.58 per week for each child, plus an additional £16.25 per week family premium. This scheme is being phased out and replaced with a combination of Child Benefit and Tax Credits. It may seem overly complicated when you speak to them but is basically more precisely means-tested than the old system.
Every UK parent with resident children can receive Child Benefit, regardless of their earnings. Child Benefit pays £20.00 for your eldest or only child and £13.20 for any other children. This is separate from Tax Credits or Income Support.
There are Family and Child ‘elements’ to the Tax Credits system, in addition to Disability and Childcare elements. These are available to individuals and couples claiming benefits and those in employment, dependent on their working hours and earnings.
The basic family element of the child tax credits is £545. Your Income can be up to £50,000 pounds before the element is reduced.
If you earn less than £16,000 in a year you can receive the maximum Child Element Tax Credit of £2,335 for each child. They must be 16 or under, or can be aged up to 20 as long as they are still in full-time, non-university education. Deductions will be made on a sliding scale if you earn more.
Childcare and Disability Elements
Additional money is available if you child is classed as disabled or severely disabled. In addition, if you require assistance from a childminder, up to 80% of the cost can be covered by credits, depending on your earnings.
Effects on Child Maintenance
If an absent parent is on a low income or in receipt of benefits, it affects how much they will be required to pay. They may only have to pay £5 per week if they are on Income Support or Jobseeker’s Allowance.